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Kingsmen / Gary U.S. Bonds / Del Shannon
Three Classic Rock 'N' Roll Must Haves! (Varese Sarabande)

By: Gary "Pig" Gold

THE KINGSMEN "The Very Best of The Kingsmen"
GARY U.S. BONDS "The Very Best of Gary U.S. Bonds"
DEL SHANNON "Drop Down And Get Me"
[Varese Sarabande, 11846 Ventura Blvd., Suite 130, Studio City, CA 91604]

Garage Rock, once universally poo-pooh'd for being little more than pop music's snot-headed little brother, can nowadaze be found basking beneath the comparative glow of expensive boxed-set appreciations, coffee table retrospectives, and even college-level treatises. Oh, quelle irony!

Critical re-evaluation notwithstanding, "garage" really had its troublesome birth sometime circa December 14, 1963, when a little Chuck Berry pastiche called "Louie Louie" somehow hit Number 2 on the Billboard sales charts. Such is this record's impact that nary a single sloppily written, performed and/or recorded rock song since has escaped its slimy, seminal influence, and the equally sloppy Portland quintet responsible for popularizing "Louie" as a result deserve to be carried aloft in nothing less than sedan chairs for the remainder of their natural lives (as Pete Townshend once said) (though I do believe he was talking about Alexis Korner at the time). Of course The Kingsmen never could be expected to top the moronic brilliance of their initial three-chord wonder-rocker -- and who, I ask you, COULD?!! -- but you're sure to thrill nevertheless at the just-as-gloriously-inept "Annie Fanny," "Little Sally Tease," or especially "Jolly Green Giant," all of which are included on this definitive Very Best Of disc (alongside the usual glut of Motown and dance-craze retreads, of course). Pure and simple magic, I do declare!

Before stepping into their Portland garage, The Kingsmen were undoubtedly studying the sweat-soaked frat-rock rave-ups of the one and only Gary Anderson -- who, under the nom-du-disc Gary U.S. Bonds, threw a string of rough, tough two-minute gems up the charts in the very earliest Sixties. "New Orleans" and "Quarter To Three" you should already know about, but that still leaves fourteen other splendors on HIS "Very Best Of" to meet, greet, and forever fall onto the nearest dancefloor to.

Similarly, the equally great (though sorrowfully late) Del Shannon was also stirring things up mightily on the pre-Kingsmen Top Forty with "Runaway," "Little Town Flirt," and several other mini-masterpieces which were truly, totally without precedent in that dark age before the (accomplished) singer-slash-songwriter came into vogue. Like Gary the Bondsman (under the questionable-at-best tutelage of Bruce Springsteen), Del was later "rediscovered" -- by Tom Petty in 1981 -- and quickly ushered into the nearest recording studio. Unlike Bonds' purported comeback albums, Del's "Drop Down And Get Me" absolutely can stand proudly alongside any item elsewhere within the formidable Shannon catalog --plus it's also quite a treat to hear Petty and his Heartbreakers playing in a dutiful support role during the very peak of their initial Top Forty fame. Beautiful!

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